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59E59 Theaters Announce 5 COVID Relief Grants

The grants, ranging from $10,000 to $25,000, are going to support new work from BIPOC and/or LGBTQ+ artists.

NEW YORK CITY: The Elysabeth Kleinhans Theatrical Foundation and 59E59 Theaters have announced five COVID relief grants given to New York City nonprofit theatre companies. These grants, the first cash grants issued by 59E59, will go toward supporting new work from artists who are Black, Indigenous, or people of color and/or LGBTQ+, and will range from $10,000 to $25,000. The companies receiving grants are Hypokrit Theater Company, Less Than Rent, New Light Theater Project, Noor Theater Company, and PlayCo.

“Our Off-Broadway theatre community is being decimated by COVID with no relief in sight,” said 59E59 artistic director Val Day in a statement. “The true devastation will be felt for years to come. We wanted to give substantial financial support to theatre companies, allowing them to continue their impactful work with perpetually underfunded artists.”

Normal seasons have 59E59 Theaters, through funding from the Elysabeth Kleinhans Theatrical Foundation, spending more than $1.7 million supporting the work of nonprofit theatres that produce in 59E59’s three theatre spaces. Details on the projects being supported by the grants follows:

Hypokrit Theatre Company was awarded a grant for the development of Finding Paradise, a memoir musical with book, music, and lyrics by Aya Aziz. The musical, an expansion of the musical Eh Dah: Questions For My Father, explores the traumas that shape the Middle East through a story that follows an Egyptian American family across generations as they look for a place to belong in the post-9/11 world. Arpita Mukherjee will direct.

Less Than Rent’s grant will go toward supporting a virtual production of marchons marchons, by Nora Brigid Monahan. The play explores the messiness of a revolution, chronicling the glory days of the most radical wing of the French Revolutionaries, the Jacobins.

New Light Theater Project received a grant to support an abridged virtual production of Ink’d Well, by E.E. Adams, which was the winner of the theatre’s 2020-21 New Light/New Voices Award. NJ Agunwa will direct this play about Kendra, who returns to her childhood summer home after finding out her brother died in a terrible accident.

Noor Theater Company‘s grant will go toward supporting the theatre’s commissioning initiative, created to help build the canon of work by artists of Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) descent. The initiative aims to further representation through new-play commission and cross-medium commission programs. New-play commissions are awarded to playwrights embarking on a full-length play development process with the theatre, while cross-medium commissions are awarded to three writers annually who develop a script in a medium of their choice designed to reach a mass audience.

PlayCo will use the grant to continue its virtual work on Django in Pain – Act One, created by Antonio Vega and Ana Graham from Por Pieded Teatro, with music by Cristóbal MarYan. The piece transforms a glass-top drawing desk into a stage to tell the story of a depressed playwright who wants to write an uplifting story about a suicidal man, but can’t because he has to take care of a three-legged dog.

“Our mission has always been to support nonprofit theatre companies’ Off-Broadway premieres,” said Elysabeth Kleinhans, foundation founder and founding artistic director of 59E59 Theaters, in a statement. “The COVID Relief grants are an extension of what 59E59 Theaters was designed to do. We believe we should find new ways to further our mission when we cannot provide the venues to do so.”

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